Categories
Videos

The Annual Trans March During Atlanta Pride

Categories
Events Festivals Timeline

Why Afropunk Atlanta Might Be The Last Time I Am Traveling For The Festival

EVENTS | FESTIVALS


Why Afropunk Atlanta Might Be The Last Time I Am Traveling For The Festival

Atlanta hosts Afropunk festival for the 4th time this year, but it might be the last time I am traveling for the festival. Here is why.

The Afropunk festival has its roots in Brooklyn, starting back in 2005. British-born musical artist manager Matthew Morgan and New York born-and-bred tattoo artist and filmmaker James Spooner masterminded the first festival. Originally the event started off free of charge and as a safe space for alternative-minded Black punks, with the goal of providing the stage for Black alternative performers. In 2008, James Spooner departed the project due to the festival’s shifting focus from the original idea. 

Soon after Spooner’s departure, the former head of A&R at Universal, Jocelyn Cooper, joined the team and broadened the festival’s reach beyond Brooklyn. In 2012, Matthew Morgan set his eye on Atlanta. Morgan said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Atlanta’s the gateway to the South for me. It’s also a place where alternative Black music, alternative Black hip-hop and alternative Black mainstream music has been created forever… There is something in the water here that allows for this Black creativity to thrive in a way that it doesn’t in other places.”

In 2015, Atlanta was the first outpost outside New York to host Afropunk, followed by Paris, London, and Johannesburg over the next few years. These days the festival features mainstream performers and charges entrance fees.

In 2019, Afropunk Atlanta was dubbed the “Carnival of Consciousness,” and celebrated its fourth installment on the same weekend as the 49th annual Atlanta Pride, keeping busy those who were planning to attend both, like myself. Even though I assumed that I wouldn’t be the only Pride celebrations spillover at Afropunk, I immediately became conscious that I was the only person at the festival repping the rainbow flag. For some reason Afropunk in Atlanta felt less queer to me than the Brooklyn or even Paris edition of the festival that I attended earlier this year. Nonetheless, I didn’t feel out of sorts and kept receiving compliments on the tiny rainbow flag propped up on top of my hair bun.

I don’t believe I would be wrong to state that the festival has almost a cult following. I mean, look at me. I’ve been chasing Afropunk from Brooklyn, to Paris, to Atlanta, and even thinking about attending it in Johannesburg later this year. Even before entering the grounds of the festival, I saw three people that I instantly recognized from meeting them at this year’s Brooklyn installment of the event. Then, not even 100 meters after passing through security, I saw a girl out of the corner of my eye who was stopped dead in her tracks, exclaiming “Sidewalkkilla!?” That was Michelle – another person I met this summer at Afropunk Brooklyn. She told me that she loved the energy of the fest so much, that she decided to come to Atlanta all by herself. I also met a couple of new people from New York who had traveled the long distance to the festival, just like myself. Amaku, a girl from Brooklyn who was decked out from head to toe in Afrocentric robe and jewelry, told me that she rode a bus for 17 hours in order to get there, and was thinking of ways to afford a trip to the Johannesburg festival as well.

The event had two performance stages: the main one was in the open air, and the smaller one located just to the side, but under a roof. A bunch of port-a-potties lined the back entrance of the smaller stage, and the queues for the food trucks were enormous. The setting, in a cluster of warehouse buildings near downtown Atlanta behind a residential area was not as remotely attractive as its counterparts in other cities. The space wasn’t picked accidentally though. Matthew Morgan and his team selected this specific area due to it being reminiscent of Morgan’s childhood upbringing in the UK. “The reason we’re in this environment where we are is access to our people, access to the community, so they don’t have to go far out of their comfort zone. They don’t have to go far economically either. [The area] truly is the city. It’s a part of the city which would never have seen a festival until we came here,” he tells AJC.

Throughout the weekend I got to witness performances by Anderson .Paak, Gallant, Leikeli47, Danny Brown, Fantastic Negrito, FKA twigs (read about her performance HERE), Masego, SiR, and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes.

Leikeli47 persevered through the stuffy interior of the smaller covered-up stage with an electrifying set, unlike the girl who passed out from the heat during Masego’s performance. FKA twigs miraculously overcame the loss of her voice due to tonsillitis during an hour-long show, while Brittany Howard kept me company with her soulful voice while I queued up for a never-ending line to one of the food trucks.

I ran into some other interesting figures, like fashion model Alton Mason, who struck several poses on top of a yellow stage (propped up specifically for photo ops), sending a small crowd into a frenzy. I also met Raisa Flowers, celebrity make-up artist who doubles as a model occasionally, and who opened the recent Savage X Fenty show. I also met two flamboyantly dressed guys from Columbus, Georgia. One of them wore a “MAGA” hat, “America” taped over with the word “Abortions.” We had a lengthy discussion about their experience living in the South as left-wing gay men and their encounters with the conservative side of gay male population, some of whom are avid Trump supporters.

Even though I immensely enjoyed attending four Afropunk festivals during the past year, I am not sure I will be willingly chasing the festival around the world in upcoming years. Having applied for a press pass for the third time in a row and not receiving any sort of response was disheartening to say the least. I understand that being an independent publication run by two queer minorities might not be enough for a festival of such magnitude, but seeing over a dozen cisgender, mostly white males taking pictures in front of the stage brought on a moment of reflection on the festival’s real values, as well as my own.

The contrast was especially stark after I ditched a series of free events at Piedmont Park organized by Atlanta Pride (like Dyke and Bi & Pan marches, a free concert headlined by Kesha, and the Starlet Cabaret Show – one of the largest yearly Atlanta Pride drag shows in the Southeast) in order to come to a festival whose concern might have not been about making people happy as much as they would want you to believe, but about making money from them. Having said this, I won’t deny that the festival succeeds at bringing Black businesses, music, and creatives together, creating a safe and fun space for everyone. Also, I won’t ever regret creating connections and memories with many beautiful souls drawn to this event. But sadly for me, the magic that I experienced at the first three Afropunk festivals that I attended before was gone with Atlanta’s last whispers of summer.

FULL COVERAGE

Afropunk Atlanta Day 1

Afropunk Atlanta Day 1 with street style, Gallant, Leikeli47, Danny Brown, and Alton Mason.

Afropunk Atlanta Day 2

Afropunk Atlanta Day 2 with street style, Anderson Paak., Masego and Fantastic Negrito.

Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
EDITORIAL Events Festivals Timeline

How Fka twigs Overpowered The Loss Of Voice At Afropunk Atlanta

EDITORIAL

FKA twigs

During Afropunk Atlanta, the artist confides in her fans that she has lost her voice due to tonsillitis, but still delivers an outstanding performance.

sidewalkkilla

FKA twigs was the headliner for the first day of Afropunk Atlanta on October 12, 2019. The dancer-turned-singer rose to fame shortly after launching a series of creative music videos back in 2013. FKA twigs started learning pole-dancing a year before the release of “Cellophane,” the first music video off her upcoming second full-length album Magdalene, where she masterfully shows off her pole-dancing skills with seeming ease. In an interview for WeTransfer’s WEPRESENT, the artist confessed that pole dancing was one of the hardest things she’s ever done.

FKA twigs came out on stage wearing a large feather hat à la Marie Antoinette, 10 minutes after her allotted performance time, with a microphone in hand, sans any fanfare. In a low raspy voice she announced to the concert-goers that on the way to Atlanta, she lost her voice due to tonsillitis. Half the crowd audibly gasped, terrified that the pole installed earlier at the back of the stage wouldn’t see any action, while the other half uttered concern for the singer’s well-being. But no one lost complete hope, as the stage was all set to go and the performer was all dressed and looking ready to slay.

“Today I had two options,”

she went on to say.

“I felt I could either not come, because I really, genuinely have no voice, or I thought I could come and I could be here with you. The angels have my voice right now, but I have other skills – I can dance. So I decided to do that, and I hope that you are happy with that decision. This is very wild for me, but I’m gonna leave it all on stage and thank you for accepting me the way I am tonight.”

“That’s fine!,”

a girl from the audience screamed.

“We’ll take anything!”

– someone else added to that.

FKA started off her set lip-syncing to her first single “Water Me.“ Right after that song she inquired if there was anyone in the audience that could sing.

“Come on, be confident. You can do it, come on”

– she urged in a low, shy voice.

Someone volunteered their friend and the girl was ushered to the stage. FKA’s single “Pendulum” started playing and the volunteer was joined by one of the backup dancers who accompanied the girl with backing vocals, while FKA joined the rest of the group in the role of a backup dancer herself. There were several girls in the audience joking about the girl who just performed in front of thousands of people, bragging about performing with FKA twigs to her grandchildren.

Some time towards the end of her set, twigs did a quick stint on the pole, sending the crowd into a hysterical frenzy. The last song of the night twigs performed was “Cellophane.” The performer asked the crowd to help her sing the song live, and she performed beautifully, no matter the “missing” voice. After the song was over, FKA announced that she would be hosting a “13 Whore Moon Ceremony” with Queen Afuaoutside tonight” and was hoping to see everyone there.

Where?! Where?!

was all you could hear from everyone around.

It didn’t take long for them to find out, as bright luminescent lights lit up in the middle of the crowd and FKA joined Queen Afua for a healing moon dance “for all virgin whores in celebration of the feminine divine.” The announcement about the ceremony came in the form of an Instagram Story that twigs posted on the day of the performance.

Alexey Kim

Founder


Having FOMO?

Sign up and receive our newsletter.

!function(){function t(t){this.element=t,this.animationId,this.start=null,this.init()}if(!window.requestAnimationFrame){var i=null;window.requestAnimationFrame=function(t,n){var e=(new Date).getTime();i||(i=e);var a=Math.max(0,16-(e-i)),o=window.setTimeout(function(){t(e+a)},a);return i=e+a,o}}t.prototype.init=function(){var t=this;this.animationId=window.requestAnimationFrame(t.triggerAnimation.bind(t))},t.prototype.reset=function(){var t=this;window.cancelAnimationFrame(t.animationId)},t.prototype.triggerAnimation=function(t){var i=this;this.start||(this.start=t);var n=t-this.start;504>n||(this.start=this.start+504),this.element.setAttribute(“transform”,”rotate(“+Math.min(n/1.4,360)+” 12 12)”);if(document.documentElement.contains(this.element))window.requestAnimationFrame(i.triggerAnimation.bind(i))};var n=document.getElementsByClassName(“nc-loop_circle-02-24”),e=[];if(n)for(var a=0;n.length>a;a++)!function(i){e.push(new t(n[i]))}(a);document.addEventListener(“visibilitychange”,function(){“hidden”==document.visibilityState?e.forEach(function(t){t.reset()}):e.forEach(function(t){t.init()})})}();

® 2022 LEXYSVIEWS LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Categories
Activisim Events Pride

“You Are Loved” at The Annual Trans March in Atlanta, GA

EVENTS | PRIDE

10-12-19

TRANS MARCH IN ATLANTA

The Annual Trans March in Atlanta celebrates the visibility of the trans and non-binary community, while remembering lives lost due to violence.

sidewalkkilla

Trans rights and issues have always been close to home, as for most of my life I have struggled with my own identity. When I was a child, I loved playing dress-up in my mom’s closet. When I got into my teenage years, I still loved doing it, only now her heels fit me just right. When I was home alone, I would carefully pick out my favorite items from her wardrobe, put them on, and prance around the house, imagining I was a girl. Up until my early 30s, I was still pondering if it would be sensible for me to transition, but last year I made a conscious decision to stay with the gender I was assigned at birth. When I got to Atlanta for their 49th Annual Pride celebrations, I looked up the events that were going to take place over the weekend, and I saw that a Trans March was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. It was a no-brainer that I would put it on my list of the events to attend.

The Annual Trans March in Atlanta first began in 2009. The March celebrates and uplifts the visibility of the trans and non-binary community, while also addressing issues facing the trans community – from discrimination in the workplace, to the growing number of hate crimes and trans murders. This year, the Trans March honored trans lives lost in 2019. So far, at least 22 trans or gender non-conforming people, mostly Black trans women, were reported murdered this year, according to the HRC. A trans woman, Roxsana Hernández, died earlier this year in ICE custody due to AIDS complications while seeking asylum from trans prosecution in El Salvador, while another trans woman, Layleen Polanco, died in Rikers Island prison due to complications from epilepsy. Johana Medina Leon was one more victim that died due to health complications while in ICE custody shortly after her release.

By the time I got to the Charles Allen Gate of Piedmont Park, where the parade was supposed to take off, I saw no sign of the march. I was sort of caught off-guard, as I didn’t realize that other things would be happening at the park at the same time. Rainbow flags were everywhere and the queer people congregated as far as the eye could see. A huge stage was set up in the middle of a large field and I noticed a poster with the weekend’s lineup. Kesha, slated to perform later that evening, headined the festival.

I started making my way through the park, trying to find the missing Trans March. I made it all the way across the park with no luck in locating it, but I stopped in front of a field strewn with what looked like colorful blankets. Upon closer investigation I realized that they were all handmade memorial quilts for queer people who had passed away from AIDS. “Happy Pride!,” I heard a voice say. There were two men standing behind me. One was in his 20s, while the other one was a couple decades older. “My name is Ben,” the younger guy introduced himself. He told me that this was his first Pride. After a couple more minutes of conversation I excused myself, but not before Ben flirtatiously announced that I had kissable lips. Happy that I could land a Southern dick, I started walking along the field, looking through more of the memorial quilts.

A few moments later I noticed a commotion happening towards the right side of where I was walking, and I made my way over there. Pansy Patrol volunteers stood with huge styrofoam pansies and posters that said things like “God Adores You” and “You R Loved,” blocking out another dozen people who held up posters that said “Homo Sex Is Sin” and “Prepare To Meet Thy God.” Several other queer activists barricaded the homophobes with huge poster boards called The Hate Shield, designed by artist Matt Terrell. “The front is a rainbow design, which faces the Pride-goers. The back, which faced the protesters, is covered in mirrored panels, so the anti-LGBTQ protesters see themselves. This mobile soundproof wall also helped reduce protest noise such as megaphones by nearly 25%,” wabe stated.

A trans woman holding up a countdown clock and a sign urging people to donate to THAP said: “Every 15 minutes they protest we raise money for trans housing, to get homelessness off the streets of Atlanta. We’ve raised over $600 so far from pledges from people in the community. The longer they protest, the more money we raise. We are going to turn their hate to love.”

I came up to a woman who was holding up a sign “They Never Miss A Gay Party,” and I asked how did the Pansy Patrol know the religious anti-gay contingent would be there. She said “They are always here!” The only other time I’ve seen Bible-thumping protesters was at Brooklyn Pride earlier this year. But Atlanta’s Pansy Patrol, who came to shield the Pride attendees from the homophobic hatred, did a darn good job drowning them out with songs and chants of love and support.

It was almost time for me to head out to the first day of Afropunk and I started making my way back. A stage that was empty just an hour earlier now featured full-on performances. A local trans activist/performer of Mexican descent, Alissah Brooks, graced the stage and brought out several surprise guests, like Jazmin Balenciaga and Alissah’s best friend, actress, singer and gay rights activist Kat Graham. At the end of the performance, Alissah read the names of the 19 trans women killed before the date of the event: Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Calire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsey, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Berries Stuckey, Tracy Single, Bubba Walker, Kiki Fantroy, Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, Bailey Reeves, Bee Love Slayter, and Itali Marlowe. Sadly, the next day after Atlanta Pride, one more name of a Black trans woman would be added to the list of murdered trans women this year. Brianna “BB” Hill was fatally shot in Kansas City.

As I started getting closer to the exit gate of the park, I finally caught up with the tail end of the Trans March. It was coming to an end and the marchers were almost at the point where they started. Even though I missed the whole march, I was able to witness other incredible things, like the queer community coming together to protect each other from hate and bigotry and celebrity allies willing to stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Moments like these give you hope and show that even though our community can be divided at times, we are still not afraid to speak up, come together, and face our adversaries.

* {
box-sizing: border-box;
}

.row2 {
display: -ms-flexbox; /* IE10 */
display: flex;
-ms-flex-wrap: wrap; /* IE10 */
flex-wrap: wrap;
padding: 0 4px;
}

/* Create four equal columns that sits next to each other */
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 50%; /* IE10 */
flex: 50%;
max-width: 50%;
padding: 0 4px;
}

.column2 img {
margin-top: 8px;
vertical-align: middle;
width: 100%;
}

/* Responsive layout – makes a two column-layout instead of four columns */
@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 50%;
flex: 50%;
max-width: 50%;
}
}

/* Responsive layout – makes the two columns stack on top of each other instead of next to each other */
@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 100%;
flex: 100%;
max-width: 100%;
}
}

Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Events Pride Timeline

49th Annual Atlanta Pride Was a Family Affair

EVENTS | PRIDE

49th Atlanta Pride

Was a Family Affair

Atlanta Pride was first held in 1970, just a year after the Stonewall riots, which served as a catalyst to the Pride movement in Atlanta.

sidewalkkilla

Atlanta Pride is one of the oldest Pride festivals in the US, and the largest in the Southeast. It was first held in 1970, just a year after the Stonewall riots, which served as a catalyst to the Pride movement in Atlanta. In 1971, when homosexual sex was still illegal, hundreds of marchers wore paper bags over their heads to hide their identity, while also sending a message of how invisible they were as a community.

In recent years Atlanta Pride has become larger than ever, attracting upwards of 300,000 yearly attendees, while annually generating over $25 million for the city since 2010.

In 2019, Atlanta’s 49th Annual Pride Festival began on National Coming Out Day, on Friday, October 11, and culminated with the Parade on Sunday, October 13. The celebrations kicked off on Friday, with a party hosted at Georgia Aquarium by Shangela and Phoenix from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Other notable events that happened during that weekend at Piedmont Park were The Annual Trans, Dyke, Bi & Pan Marches and a free concert headlined by Kesha, and Starlight Cabaret Show, one of the largest drag cabarets in the Southeast.

The Atlanta Pride Committee chose politician Stacey Abrams, trans activist Feroza Syed, and teenage poet Royce Mann to be the parade’s grand marshals.

“One of the reasons we choose grand marshals is because we are actually shining a light on what issues and work we as an organization believe to be important,”

Jamie Fergerson, Atlanta Pride Committee’s Executive Director, stated to wabe.

Caged Jock

The morning my porn star friend Caged Jock and I set out to the parade was overcast, but by the time we got to the MARTA’s Civic Center station, where all the floats were waiting to take off, it was full-on pouring rain. The scene that presented itself reminded me of WorldPride celebrated in NYC earlier the same year, sans the rain: rows of cars and floats were lined up along the road, with go-go boys wearing nothing but a robe and underwear; leather pups having a small party of their own on a sidewalk; bears patiently waiting by a truck adorned with hundreds of their plush namesakes.

We slowly moved through the crowd and once we made our way to the end of the street, we realized that we were walking inside of an actual parade. Quickly scanning around for the best options for advancing through the whole route of the march, we thought it would be best to walk down the street with the floats. The further we walked, the more people were lining up on the sidewalks and the more it started raining. 

At a certain point on the route barricades started to appear on the sidewalks, and we realized that the only way out would be to walk towards the final destination of the parade at Piedmont Park. The crowd grew larger the more we advanced through the route, and from hundreds of people lining up the sidelines, it turned into thousands. “We love you!” and “Happy Pride!” is all we could hear, walking along the route of the parade on Peachtree street.

One of the things that struck me the most was how many people came with their kids. A lot of people in the crowd came to support those who might not be close to their own family by wearing shirts that said “Dad Hugs” and “Mom Hugs.” I’ve gotten hugged by three moms simultaneously who all kissed me on my cheeks and told me that they loved me; a handsome dad with a brown-brimmed hat gave me a strong and warm hug that almost made me cry; a married couple coddled me in a three-way embrace.

All of the people that brought kids to the parade deserve separate recognition. It’s incredibly important to show future generations that love is the answer, no matter what skin you are in. It’s comforting to know that there are parents out there who not only support their own children, but show them that tolerance is the only way forward.

A large group of anti-LGBTQ protesters lined up along one of the streets, holding up hateful slogans and protected by the police, but no one seemed to care. A few people who were walking in the parade, slowed down to taunt the outsiders with their joy. Yes, it did rain on our parade, but the unconditional support that the marchers and onlookers exhibited for each other that day couldn’t be defeated – not by the weather nor by the people who have come to project hate during such an otherwise beautiful intergenerational exhibition of love and acceptance.

NOTE: Unfortunately, all official celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Atlanta Pride were cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus.

* {
box-sizing: border-box;
}

.row2 {
display: -ms-flexbox; /* IE10 */
display: flex;
-ms-flex-wrap: wrap; /* IE10 */
flex-wrap: wrap;
padding: 0 4px;
}

/* Create four equal columns that sits next to each other */
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 50%; /* IE10 */
flex: 50%;
max-width: 50%;
padding: 0 4px;
}

.column2 img {
margin-top: 8px;
vertical-align: middle;
width: 100%;
}

/* Responsive layout – makes a two column-layout instead of four columns */
@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 50%;
flex: 50%;
max-width: 50%;
}
}

/* Responsive layout – makes the two columns stack on top of each other instead of next to each other */
@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 100%;
flex: 100%;
max-width: 100%;
}
}

Alexey Kim

Founder


Having FOMO?

Sign up and receive our newsletter.

!function(){function t(t){this.element=t,this.animationId,this.start=null,this.init()}if(!window.requestAnimationFrame){var i=null;window.requestAnimationFrame=function(t,n){var e=(new Date).getTime();i||(i=e);var a=Math.max(0,16-(e-i)),o=window.setTimeout(function(){t(e+a)},a);return i=e+a,o}}t.prototype.init=function(){var t=this;this.animationId=window.requestAnimationFrame(t.triggerAnimation.bind(t))},t.prototype.reset=function(){var t=this;window.cancelAnimationFrame(t.animationId)},t.prototype.triggerAnimation=function(t){var i=this;this.start||(this.start=t);var n=t-this.start;504>n||(this.start=this.start+504),this.element.setAttribute(“transform”,”rotate(“+Math.min(n/1.4,360)+” 12 12)”);if(document.documentElement.contains(this.element))window.requestAnimationFrame(i.triggerAnimation.bind(i))};var n=document.getElementsByClassName(“nc-loop_circle-02-24”),e=[];if(n)for(var a=0;n.length>a;a++)!function(i){e.push(new t(n[i]))}(a);document.addEventListener(“visibilitychange”,function(){“hidden”==document.visibilityState?e.forEach(function(t){t.reset()}):e.forEach(function(t){t.init()})})}();

® 2022 LEXYSVIEWS LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.